Apprentice Boys’ annual Relief of Derry parade to attract upwards of 10,000

The Apprentice Boys’ annual Relief of Derry parade is set to return in full today (Saturday, August 13) with more than an estimated 10,000 expected to attend.

One of the largest loyal order demonstrations in Northern Ireland, ‘Derry Day’ attracts participants from far and wide.

With the event having been curtailed due to the Covid pandemic, today’s parade is expected to be particularly well attended.

Members of the Apprentice Boys have been holding their own local parades before heading off to the north west for the main event, where they will be accompanied by around 110 bands.

The Apprentice Boys of Derry Relief of Derry parade en route along the Derry Walls on August 14, 2021. Picture: Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

The celebrations take place in the city from 9.30am.

What is Derry Day?

Each year on the second Saturday of August, the Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry assemble in Londonderry to celebrate the events of August 1689 and the Relief of the city.

The celebrations have been an annual event since 1690 and are kept alive in much the same format to this day. The main elements of the celebrations have changed little in hundreds of years.

The wreath-laying ceremony at the War Memorial in the Diamond during the Relief of Derry celebrations in 2021. Picture: Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

The crimson flag flies and the bells ring from St Columb’s Cathedral, as requested by Colonel Mitchelburne. Although the original cannon on the walls are no longer in working order, a cannon is still fired on the walls. Just like in 1690 a parade around the city celebrates the end of the siege.

Perhaps the most important part of the day’s celebrations is a service of thanksgiving in St Columb’s Cathedral, which played such an important role in the lives of the besieged.

What form do the celebrations take?

Although parade routes have changed over the years, the day follows a similar pattern each year now. The celebrations begin at midnight with the firing of a cannon on the city walls.

The parade around the city begins at 9.30am with the eight parent clubs parading around the walls before walking to the cathedral. As the parade passes the War Memorial in the Diamond, a wreath-laying ceremony takes place and at 10.30am there is a service of thanksgiving in St Columb’s Cathedral.

The main parade around the city begins at 12.30pm at Craigavon bridge, led by the General Committee of the Apprentice Boys, followed by the parent clubs with each of their branch clubs from across the UK. The parade passes through the city centre before returning to across the bridge and up to Irish Street and back down to finish at Bond Street.

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Relief of Derry 2022: more than 100 bands expected to take part in huge parade

The day’s events end with the eight parent clubs returning to within the city walls, finishing at the Memorial Hall.